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NEWS > Former Staff > Mrs Cook

Mrs Cook

For over 27 years, Mrs Cook has dedicated her time to Prior's Field in one way or another, whether it be teaching, becoming a School Ambassador or an Exam Invigilator. But what happened to the sheep?
Mrs Cook at Prior's Field
Mrs Cook at Prior's Field

Length of service: 27 years.

What was your background before PF?

I studied Natural Sciences, Geography and Geology in parallel with education and Human Psychology, for a joint Honours Degree at university and then I went on to do a Diploma in Teaching. My first post was in Guildford at a large comprehensive school. It was very challenging at first, but I got to love it and I made good friends amongst the staff. After eight years I left to have my first child, Ruth (OG 1991-1998), and then enjoyed a further eight years just being a mum to Ruth and then to Matt. Oh, and I gained two flocks of hens and a flock of sheep and an enormous garden!

I missed teaching (would you believe) and returned once my youngest had started at Nursery school, helping out there until he was old enough to start infant school.

How did you hear about the job and who interviewed you?

Obviously, I knew of PF from living in the area and driving past to and from Godalming.

It was a Thursday morning and, after completing my shopping, I went into Smiths for a magazine and saw a copy of the Times Educational Supplement on the floor. It comes out on a Friday and has a big jobs section, so this was a week out of date. It was April and most jobs are offered from May for the following September. I bought it and thought I would idly look through over a coffee when I got home.

After putting the shopping away and checking the sheep (April is lambing season!) I looked at Geography in Secondary schools and there it was - an advert for a part-time Geography teacher at PF. They were looking for a Physical Geography specialist to start straight away! I phoned at once. Mrs MacCallum interviewed me that afternoon. Mrs Carter was out on a field trip, so I could not meet her until the next day, but when I did, my job offer was made and the rest is, as they say, history. Well, Geography and Geology actually!

What were the main topics you enjoyed teaching?

Geography and Geology were my top favourites. We stopped teaching Geology after a few years as the exam boards were dropping it, although we still had candidates who wanted to do it. It was a shame. Mrs Carter and I often said how much we missed it and we both kept our rock and fossil samples until we left.

However, ‘in my time’ I also taught Maths, Philosophy, Learning Skills and RE. Within Geography, my favourites were glaciation, vulcanicity, oceanography and the growing awareness of Climate Change!

What are your best memories of Prior’s Field?

So many! Field trips, charity days, the friends I made amongst the staff, the pupils I taught, yes, even the naughty ones! 

Perhaps the comradery when the school suffered a large fire and several girls, whose dorms were burnt out lost everything. I remember being in the dining room with piles of donated clothes from other girls and then a few brought their own soft toys to give to those who had lost them. Typical PF.

What was the most amusing answer a girl wrote on an exam paper?

Lots! “Leopards are spotted all over Africa" is one, but I do remember a revision lesson with the third form when the Head, Mrs Roseblade, came in to watch. We were revising earthquakes, and, quite forgetting for a moment that she was there, I hit the desk and said "Drop!" Well, the girls knew what to do and were ‘sheltering’ under their desks in a trice, but Mrs Roseblade was taken by surprise until they explained to her!

What have you done in your retirement? 

I started with being an Ambassador for the school, and very much enjoyed visiting feeder Prep schools and signing up new ones which then sent pupils to us.

Since then I have come in to invigilate and to help with Heritage Open Days and the popular Old Girl Sleepover Reunions! 

I don't have the sheep and hens anymore, but I do have grandchildren to fill the garden with laughter and games. I fulfilled a lifelong ambition and learned to sail, becoming an RYA Yacht Skipper and I still make lace!

I keep in touch with former staff and former pupils and those friendships mean a great deal and I can never listen to James' song " Sit Down" without remembering that charity assembly when I played it, the girls all sang along and the Sisterliness Award was initiated by Roseanne Bradburn, Nicola and their friends in the Sixth form as a result. 

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